Thursday, January 24, 2013

I do love conspiracy... those folks behind the door...

I joined an Army that had beaten the Imperial Japanese, Nazi Germany, and convinced Italy to switch rulers and change sides in World War II, my uncle and my father wore its uniform. I heard they fought pretty well against the North Korean Communists and the Chinese Volunteers (which I have always thought were left over Warlord forces from the Chinese Civil War - led by proper Communist Political Officers at every level).  That war wasn't concluded very well, no political will from the United Nations, but the Army and Marine Corps did just fine in combat. They were trying that individual replacement system, but the armistice was too quick to figure out that it was a stupid idea. Vietnam would demonstrate that.

War isn't only about combat, just like any institution of the government isn't about its function as it is about the political coin and power it costs and contains. Somewhere in the planning of the late 1950s and early 1960s there were people that didn't understand combat, didn't care about winning on the battlefield and had other ideas about how to make the Department of Defense better. The same kind of people that were going to destroy the family unit, and the education system, and make everyone afraid of their neighbor through the media powers presented by television and radio. They may be the same people, I don't know, I just know about the US Army. Can't even tell you about the Marines, but I have seen glimpses of their response.

The Army I joined, had all the soldiers waking up from sleeping in bunks, getting their fatigues and boots and hat on, and falling out to march to physical fitness training, PT. They would ground their shirt and hat, and assemble in a PT formation, and start the daily dozen - following the commands and demonstrations of their leader. Then they would fall into a running formation, about platoon size (40) and go for a run, of up to two to five miles. Real tough units would go more faster. They would return to the shirts and hats, fall in on their gear and put it on and go to breakfast. After breakfast they would go clean up the barracks, do police call, and fall in for training about nine - lunch about noon, and recall and end of duty day about five, when retreat was sounded.

The rifle could have been carried all day, it was an M14, semi-automation with a twenty round box magazine (which normally wasn't carried if not going to tactical, field or rifle ranges). It was a fine combat weapon, good range and penetration, and had a bayonet that could be attached. It would be stored in rifle racks in the platoon bays with a lock maintained by the platoon sergeant or Charge of Quarters. The bayonet drill was good stuff left over from years of fighting with a rifle or musket with a pointy bayonet that was never unloaded and always lethal if placed properly upon a victim. And then the butt stoke could really crush a skull or two without reloading, too.

The Basic or Advanced Combat Fitness Test was administered to all the soldiers, or should I start here saying all the male soldiers. I think the women in the service in 1967 had their own Fitness Test. So the male soldier would start with a 40 yard low crawl, chest must remain in contact with the ground, 20 yards one way, spin and 20 yards back. Fast as you can. Then the Run Dodge and Jump, and it was just like its title. Then the Horizontal Ladder, as fast as you could, as many bars hung from as possible, then the grenade throw, and last the run, one or two miles depending on your training.

So as I learned how to do these tests, march, carry the rifle, shoot the rifle, be part of a team and many other things as I became a soldier, then Non Commissioned Officer (NCO). I noticed the changes, made in the male training, uniforms and housing as the military prepared for integrating women into the regular Army and combat arms.

First change I noted was the excitement over the M16, until the reports against it from Vietnam, which were fixable, and the Marine Corps even made it better which became the M16A2. The rifle was designed for women, lighter, not so much for bayonet drill or training. So the second thing I noticed was the Pugil Stick training, became more and bayonet drill less. Those M16s would break when used as clubbing implements. M16A2s are a fine rifle for closer combat, the M4 more so, but when you want to reach out and kill someone four hundred or more meters away, as the designated rifleman with the M14, or your local sniper with his rifle.

In the Combat Fitness Test the low crawl became the inverted crab walk - which is a fine physical exercise, and test, but has nothing to do with a combat skill - it does keep one's chest from constant contact with the ground. The horizontal ladder had to go, I always ripped my callouses off on the bars, and I have no idea how women would have liked swinging like an ape, with a bit less shoulder and chest muscles than most men, that was eliminated because it cost so much to build and maintain those ladders for testing. Not that it wasn't a good indicator of upper body strength and coordination, for men. The grenade throw went away, too. We had grenade launchers, didn't need to throw them now, and who ever decided it had to go hadn't watch girls softball and was sure they couldn't throw well. So, as a Physical Fitness Test let us do three things, push ups, sit ups and run. That is all. And we would grade women differently on the push ups, sit ups and run just because we didn't want them to feel bad.  Linking it later to promotions hasn't helped the difference.

There was a whole lot of walking in WWII and Korea, the helicopter moved more troops and supplies but the grunts were still weeks walking in Vietnam without showers or mail. But a lot more mobility came in, which gets you to the battle quicker, and makes the Headquarters think they control more territory based on how fast reaction forces can get to the enemy.... while he bikes or walks or takes the public transportation and strikes everywhere you aren't looking or guarding.

Back to all that changed in the Army. Where once I did PT in boots and fatigues, I had now jogging shoes and a PT uniform, and time to shower after PT before the remainder of the day. The idea is to change the pattern before the women show up, it was constant, change before women show up. Once all the service academies were all male, well, that had to change - opportunities for women - which again has nothing to do with winning wars or fighting in combat. It was fair.

When I got into the Army, men could fight and not end their career, they didn't always go to Article 15 UCMJ. There was something the platoon sergeant might do, the First Sergeant or the boys in the platoon might make adjustments. But then they decided that total control from the top was absolutely the best way of making everything better. Like an officer would be a better judge than the men.

The pistol was the 1911 and it was clunky, but worked, the bullet worked, and the only problem I ever had with the Colt 45 Semi-auto was never enough range time to shoot well. But ammunition is expensive. It had to be changed for the M9 Beretta, which had its own problems. The idea of the change was good for our allies used 9mm, it was bad in thinking that women couldn't handle a .45, and that all those extra bullets meant more hits. No one bought more ammunition for practice, and the extra magazines needed were spare parts request and often not purchased.

The platoon bays, were changed to four man rooms, the NCOs then went to two man rooms, everything looked like college dorms. In the field, shower runs became a norm (using DECON units), and porta-potties.  This getting men ready for integration of women in the field and into combat is sweet. Thank you, ladies.

The last step in the transition to getting men ready to accept women into combat roles, was to make homosexuality a norm. Men really are bothered by women that love women.  We, the soldiers of the many centuries, have had homosexual men fighting around us forever, but the idea that a woman in uniform only wants to be with other women - that was always the rumor in the men's barracks. The homosexual men get to live, and never went to courts martial as long as it was not hurting the morale and discipline of the unit. Yeah, they had to keep it covered up, but sexuality has nothing to do with military operations, and combat isn't sexual it is killing and destroying. Real combat doesn't make good press or dreams but perfect nightmares.

Now the people that think the military is just an organization to be used for employment opportunity, and that men and women are the same, should be treated equally and fairly. They are the same people that have made sure that women's rights are above human rights. I am too old for worrying about fighting women, I like to kill my enemies far enough off that I don't know what sex they are. And the military hasn't figured out maternity leave policy that will keep the units combat ready, and the women producing the next generations of military might - good luck with that one.

I do know, from back in the day, when my wife was teaching Tae Kwon Do and I was just a wanna be - I knocked the breath out of her and she stopped breathing from one perfect kick. And she always allows me to break doors down and open pickle jars for her. She makes the home and I take out the garbage, however you like to read that. So, I have no dog in the fight, but I would rather have the men in combat wanting to get back to that innocent girl, than snoring beside them in the fighting position awaiting the next action. No, the Army is not a Nation building police force, nations build themselves and the Army has enough problems policing itself - have you seen the number of officers caught in adultery, or fraternization? Who were those folks behind the curtain? Conspiracy, year after year.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Earl, and similar to the conversation at work today amongst us 'old' folks...